Woodlawn now property of county

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Carroll supervisors will hold a hearing in January to get the community’s ideas for using the former school.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — The Carroll County supervisors accepted the former Woodlawn School on Dec. 9, and they will ask the public for input on the facility’s future use in January.
A lot involving Woodlawn has taken place this fall after the school that taught students for more than a century closed, Supervisor Sam Dickson said in a report at the county board meeting.
The Carroll County School Board declared the school and its grounds surplus earlier this fall in a 3-2 vote.

In the meantime, the supervisors haven’t made a decision on what to do with the facility, though school athletics and community groups like Special Olympics with ongoing programs have continued there.
Dickson reminded his fellow board members that supervisors’ Chairman David Hutchins had appointed a committee of Dickson and Supervisor Tom Littrell to gather information on expenses and ongoing maintenance.
“Monthly, we’re looking, just to keep Woodlawn School there and heated, at around $5,529,” Dickson reported. “Annually you’re looking at roughly $67,000.”
In terms of capital improvement needs, the boiler is in bad condition, which could be upgraded or replaced at the cost of $20,000.
No money has been budgeted by county officials for Woodlawn maintenance.
“With all the things we’ve got to do, we’ve just added another large cost,” Dickson said.
An underground fuel tank could be removed at the cost of $10,000.
Dickson said there will be a cost savings because Carroll County High School no longer needs to burn coal since the conversion to natural gas for fuel. The high school transferred 30 tons of coal to Woodlawn at no charge.
The school board also held its surplus property auction at Woodlawn, Dickson noted. The Woodlawn committee decided to pull a number of the school’s kitchen items from the auction in case they can still be useful at Woodlawn later.
“We did pull a lot of the basic stuff from the kitchen — that upset a few people that came to bid on that,” the supervisor noted.
The auction advertisement said that items could be pulled from the sale, he added.
County officials created a use request form and those will go to the recreation department in the future.
Other miscellaneous items at Woodlawn include: the former school still hosted two voting precincts in the November election; the county insurance provider has picked up coverage on the facility; county officials rekeyed the doors because a lot of keys had circulated in the past; county workers looked at heat in certain higher use rooms separately to save money; winterizing the school and the concession stand.
A county employee will walk through the building three times a week to monitor for problems, Dickson said.
Supervisors will consider the possibility of transferring Woodlawn to the county Industrial Development Authority and will hold a public hearing on that idea next year, the at-large supervisor said.
Also in terms of future uses at Woodlawn, Dickson made a motion to hold a special meeting on Jan. 23 to hear ideas from citizens on that subject. The supervisors unanimously approved the motion, setting the time at 7 p.m. in the county board meeting room.
There continues to be a lot of interest in using Woodlawn for activities, especially sports.
The supervisors in October delayed accepting Woodlawn after the school board split on transferring the facility to the county.
“So that kind of held things up,” Dickson said.
Hutchins called for an approval of the resolution to accept the Woodlawn property as surplus from the school system, and Hendrick made that motion.
In so doing, Hendrick said this was the same resolution that was pulled from the October meeting of the county board.
Though the school board split on the school transfer, their motion still got approved.
The delay was unnecessary, Hendrick indicated. “My understanding by state code we can’t refuse it anyway,” about the transfer.
The school board couldn’t keep that facility after they accepted funding to improve the middle and high schools and close Woodlawn, Dickson said. That raised questions about the hesitation of the school board members.
“It left a lot of questions in the community, I can tell you that,” Hutchins said.
On the vote, all the supervisors supported the motion to accept Woodlawn.